By Emre Gurkan Abay
Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was charged Tuesday with taking a $2 million bribe in a state takeover deal, Russian investigators said.
According to a statement from the Investigative Committee, Ulyukayev received the bribe on Monday in exchange for positively assessing state-owned oil company Rosneft’s deal to buy the government’s 50 percent stake in the Bashneft oil company.
He has denied the charge. If convicted he could face a jail term of up to 15 years.
Ulyukayev is the highest-ranking official to be held since the 1991 coup attempt in the former Soviet Union.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Ulyukayev had been dismissed from office and replaced by Deputy Economy Minister Yevgeny Yelin.
Ulyukayev told Moscow’s Basmanny District Court that he would “fully cooperate” with investigators, the state-run TASS news agency reported. The court placed him under house arrest.
Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee, told TASS that Ulyukayev was arrested “red-handed” and witnesses had implicated him. She said investigators had “substantial evidence”, including audio and video footage and eyewitness testimony.
She added: “The investigation was opened based on the results of operations carried out by the Federal Security Service.”
Peskov said the case would not adversely affect investments in Russia and said the arrest was a positive development for his country’s image as a place for safe investment.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.